Before you watch any of these races you might want to hit the mute button, even Andy Rooney thinks Oaklawn Park announcer Terry Wallace is washed up.
The Grade Three Southwest, one mile around two turns at Oaklawn Park.
Archarcharch (Post Position 6, Jon Court) breaks well and moves along to the first turn in midpack. He loses his footing, baring out to the right just a bit, as he begins to take the turn and gets back to steady sailing three and four wide. Despite the quick early pace Archarcharach begins a continual advance along the backside, and takes on the wall of three longshot pace setters four wide in a move what looked to be premature, but Court bides his time a length off the lead in fourth around the turn. He finally puts away the pacesetters at the quarter pole, also having to deal with closers to his outside, but quickly spurs away to one and a half length lead. Archarcharch shortens his stride late, appearing to have possibly switched back to his left lead but has enough to hold off the closing J P's Gusto at the finish line after having, slightly, cut Gusto off as he runs away, towards the rail, from Court's right handed stick.
If you cashed on Archarcharch here back in February be sure to thank Jon Court the next time he's at a track near you. This was a hall of fame ride, having gone up and pressed the pace setters to their outside so early turned out to be a brilliant move, scenting the middle fractions would be slow and subsequently getting the jump on the closers. Archarcharch gets credit for having survived a wide trip around both turns, and although he tired late, (the final quarter mile went in 26.19 seconds) that was to be expected since he was asked far earlier than two-three finishers J P's Gusto and Elite Alex.
The Grade Two Rebel, a mile and a sixteenth around two turns at Oaklawn Park.
Archarcharch (Post Position 1, Jon Court) picks out a nice spot early along the rail in third, taking the first turn better this go around. While initially about five lengths off of The Factor racing lose on the lead, Archarcharch closes that gap to a length and a half going into the final turn. The Factor lets it out a notch to, again, put a significant amount of ground between he and the rest of the field. Archarcharch rides the rail around the turn and comes back to Caleb's Posse who ranged up from the outside, having looked like he easily had second place wrapped up. He does ends up losing that battle for second, but only by a neck.
The Factor was never going to be caught here, racing lose on the lead setting a controlled pace at nine furlongs, so the loss is inconsequential. However, it's my thinking that rather than being game and resolute to only lose out by a neck to Caleb's Posse, when at the eight pole Caleb's Posse looked like he was going to draw away with second, it had more to do with Caleb's Posse getting to the front (excluding The Factor) after having made a big move on the turn and pulling up some. Archarcharch also rode the rail the entire trip so I'm not too enthralled with this effort.
The Grade One Arkansas Derby, a mile and an eight around two turns at Oaklawn Park.
Archarcharch (Post Position 10, Jon Court) once again breaks in mid-pack and takes the turn about four wide, back in tenth. He makes up about four lengths on the backside, after another wide gradual advancement. He continues to advance on the turn, four and five wide, as the pace begins to collapse. Archarcharch makes a nice run down the stretch - as Sway Away and Dance City, understandably, don't put up much of a fight - and has enough of an momentum advantage to hold off Nehro at the wire. He pulls up sooner than you'd have liked to have seen going into a 10 furlong race in the gallop out.
Archarcharch's trip here has very much in common with his effort in the Southwest; enjoying a quick pace up front that made mush of the horses up close, (besides Dance City) then advancing wide and having enough of a jump on the closers to hold them off. The middle fractions where he did his damage weren't nearly as slow (furlongs four through six in 24.69 and six through eight in 24.96) as the Southwest, indicating improvement.
Final thoughts -Another heady closer, with a pedigree and past performances that suggest he'll have no problem with the ten furlongs, Archarcharch is a prime candidate for Kentucky Derby coronation.
Besides having taken advantage of the lazy middle fractions in the Southwest, I have no significant knocks on either of his wins at Oaklawn. (The Rebel is a toss for me.) I'm encouraged with his running style - a closer, yes, but Jon Court has shown the foresight to gradually advance him along in his races, earlier than most jocks would, in order to get the jump on the dead closers. Now I'm sure much of this had to do with Oaklawn's short stretch but I wouldn't be surprised should he attempt the same tacit again at Churchill hoping that the dead closers will encounter some traffic in the stretch.
What's more encouraging is that the Southwest and Arkansas Derby shaped out to take a similar race form as the Derby is expected to: fast early pace with slow middle and final fractions. Archarcharch has obviously preformed admirably under such circumstances.
Let's not forget that Archarcharch is 'experienced' when it comes to this group with six career starts, two as a two year old. He's also shown to be very professional so immaturity shouldn't be an obstacle come Derby day. For me he's a must use at 10-1 or higher.
Here are Archarcharch's PP's.